Next week Anastasia and I head to Florida to visit my mom and two of my brothers. Nothing delights her more than going to Florida, but the anxiety of the transition there is always really tough for her. The first sign of trouble is the mania. Lots of silliness, laughing, goofing off. Then a need for extra cuddling on the hour. Finally, the nightmares. They are always the same theme: the orphanage, physical abuse, and my abandoning her.
This one bears the telling, as some of you might have insight into what is going in in that little head. Ok, in her dream, she was back at the orphanage and the staff was chasing after her and trying to beat her. She decides to hide outside, and stands still in a garden, pretending to be a plant. The staff runs right by her not seeing her, but there is a very old woman sitting on a couch outside in the snow. She has a lamp there, too, but no walls or anything. She lives outside. She stares at Anastasia for "hours" and finally Anastasia can't be still anymore, and takes a breath. The old woman sees her and says " Ahh! I knew you weren't really a plant!" Anastasia is terrified that the woman will tell the staff about her, but the woman says she is very lonely and if Anastasia will be her friend, she won't tell the staff her whereabouts. Suddenly I am there at the orphanage, and Anastasia runs to me crying saying she missed me and hugs me tight. She thinks she is going home, but then I tell her I have things to do, and I leave her there and fly home alone. Somehow the staff come back, and she runs and hides in the orphanage basement, curls up in a corner and sobs. She wakes up crying (in real life) and calls to me...
Of course I listen and help her to process it. I remind her that she is never going back to the orphanage, and that I would never leave her. She asks me to hug her really tight. She says "My awake mind knows you would never do that, but my sleeping mind still thinks you could."
Then, out of nowhere: "Mom? Am I a bad person? I feel like a bad person on the inside."
"What makes you feel like a bad person?" I ask.
"I don't want to visit Anya in Russia. I'm scared. I don't want to see her again until she is living here. It's too hard. I'm a bad sister."
Now, we have no immediate plans to visit Anya. We simply don't have the funds right now. But somehow, I think this trip to Florida is connected in her mind with not going to Russia.
Then she adds, " Mom, I think part of this dream was about baby Ariella. I let my heart love her and then she was gone. I don't like that feeling. It feels empty in my heart. I think that old lady in my dream is me wanting Ariella back."
So, Ariella gets mixed up with Anya feelings that gets mixed up with Russia feelings that, in turn, are somehow connected to Florida (travelling, I guess.)
I hold her and run my fingers thru her hair and we talk and talk, and hug and hug, until she finally seems regulated. Suddenly, she is ok, and goes off to work on her puzzle. At the door, she turns to speak to me:
'Mom, just so you know, if I die in that plane crashing on the way to Florida next week, I love you more than anything in the whole universe."
Well, we obviously still have more to work through.